IT’S EITHER ME OR THEM.
So far they’ve been winning!
PREVIOUS: Grandiosity & ‘Normal’
GENERAL: From the very beginning of life all children are PMES (Mental, Emotional, Physical & Spiritual) sponges – ‘swallowing whole’ every moment of every part of their environment. Kids are highly intuitive & very observant. We picked up:
• what we saw, what we heard, where we went
• how we were treated, at home & outside
• AND our parents’ emotions, values, opinions and secrets – whether obvious, unexpressed, or those hidden from themselves (denied)
• how others around us treated each other – like the relationship between our parents, & our parents with our siblings, their exes, their parents, siblings, friends, bosses… 27 from SiteMap)
BUT, all of that was experienced & processed thru the lens of a child’s limited perspective AND his or her specific personality!
Therefore, each child in a family will have a different ‘story’ of what happened. If we wanted to get a rounded picture of a family we would need the point of view of each member & put it together in a psychological collage – to get anywhere near the truth.
IN THE PRESENT
In common: Everyone has an Internalized Inner Guide to good & proper behavior – for our specific society. It will be beneficial or harmful, depending on our upbringing. (This is NOT schizophrenia, or other mental illness). People with relatively sane childhoods have an OK or POSITIVE INTROJECT they can use to self-soothe & to be of legitimate help to others.
ACoAs: However, anyone raised in an emotionally unhealthy, neglectful, abusive, torturing environment has a Negative Introject (NI) which is cruel, unsympathetic, rigid, distorted & a LIAR! Much of what ACoAs lived thru was SO disturbing & overwhelming that we had to create defenses, just to keep from ‘going crazy’, and the #1 defense every child automatically uses when experiencing trauma is Self-Hate. We absorbed:
• some good stuff, here & there, but mainly…..
• …. all the damage & dysfunction of our home & community! Imagine – every kid has to try to make sense of their ‘world’ with distorted info & very limited experience, & many without enough loving help to navigate.
MAKE UP of the ‘NI’
• A combination of our version** of each major caretaker in our youth – anyone who was important to us, &/or that we spent a lot of time with
(** This does NOT mean we were incorrect, only limited in our perception & info about them. As adults we sometimes get additional facts which gives us a more rounded – but not necessarily better – opinion of them).
• often, a specific parent who had the most forceful, controlling &/or crazy personality in the family – now has the strongest voice in our head
• parts of our psyche we disown – a pitiless ‘conscience’, our version of a judging Higher Power, our distortions of good life-rules…
• the rules of our social & spiritual communities – school, neighborhood, social class, religious doctrine…
• and since most of the people who raised us / taught us – were not evil just very damaged, we’ve also internalized some of their skills, hopes, dreams, talents, knowledge, goals… as much as we could be see. BUT it is a small part of the NI, compared to the abuse.
WHY is it so IMPORTANT to KNOW ABOUT the ‘NI’?
To the degree that we ‘honor & obey’ the BAD VOICE (PP, NI) – we feed our self-hate, live in fear, sabotage ourselves, choose inappropriate people, can’t grow into our best self, hurt others & allow others to hurt us !
a. IF we were in pain as kids, and are in pain now, even if we don’t remember what happened, or don’t understand why – we can be sure that:
• we absorbed the hurt that others in the family were feeling – especially that which they refused to acknowledge (their suffering was ‘in the air’)
• we felt our own emotional pain, every day, from the way we were being treated/ neglected, but had no one to comfort us, to validate our feelings, to explain that it was NOT about us & so NOT our fault
b. We may have a slanted view or limited understanding of who everyone in our family was, what their motives were, what they went thru, what their ‘diagnosis’ may be – since even with our intuition we couldn’t possibly know all the facts of their lives – unless someone tells us!
BUT the one thing we can be sure was not a distortion of our childhood experience: Our painful emotions NOW are all the proof we need that we were deeply wounded by the family’s toxic way of living. Not being able to remember is not an excuse to maintain denial. Emotions say it all.
NEXT: Negative Introject (Part 2)